Kids on the edge of Italian society

Francesco Faraci Malacarne

There’s no smoke without fire

Francesco Faraci was born in Palermo, Italy, in 1983. He had never been interested in the people living in the city suburbs until three years ago: “I ran into a boy who lived there. We were at the train station, and he asked me if I could give him a ride on my scooter. While I was driving, we talked a lot about his life,” recounts Faraci. He later returned to the suburbs with a camera.

Bad meat, not people

All his life, Faraci was told not to go to those city zones because that’s where the “malacarne” live. In Italian, “malacarne” literally means “bad meat,” scraps good only for throwing away. It is used as a pejorative term to describe people on the edge of society, the men and women that exist but who have no voice and find themselves banished to the outskirts of the city.

No dolce vita

Faraci recalls the shock when he first arrived in the Palermo suburbs: “That place was flooded with kids.” Eventually, the children became his primary objective. “I was totally focused on the reality around me, and it almost made me go back to being a child with them,” he says, but he stresses that at the beginning, it was hard to fit in.

Family comes first

“I was a stranger, and they were aware of it. I spent months with them, I did whatever they wanted to do and never pulled back. I cried with them, I laughed with them, I played football with them, I met their parents. I wanted to be accepted as part of the community,” Faraci says and admits that step by step, he started to feel more like a brother, father, or a friend rather than a photographer.

Boys will not be boys

Talking about the photographic series, Faraci confesses that the images are almost never objective and almost always biased despite their very realistic nature. “A 13-year-old boy once whispered into my ear, ‘I don’t have any intention to meet the same end as the others.'” By “the others,” he meant his friends, many of whom are in and out of prison for minor and major crimes.

When crime becomes an escape

The kids in the Palermo suburbs face the risk of becoming slaves to local criminal organizations every day, Faraci explains. However, it is not usually a lust for violence that motivates them to join the local gangs but the opposite: they see it as an opportunity to escape from the everyday reality and improve their situation and living conditions since the government seemingly ignores them.

A leap of faith

Faraci has now spent three years in the city suburbs and claims the situation has improved slightly over the course of time. “Palermo is a volcano. This town has chaos and disorder in its blood. There are many problems, but there’s been a strong cultural and social movement recently. We’re trying to solve problems, each one doing their part,” he says.

Reasons for optimism

Does Faraci view his Malacarne series as his contribution to Palermo society? “Some people approve of it, while others don’t,” he says, but the images, which were published as a crowd-funded book help to shed light on the situation. “I don’t want to be too optimistic, but it looks like things are ready to change.”

Comment (1)

  1. This really answered my drawback, thank you!

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